Bi-lingual streetnames in Amsterdam, do we really need it?

StraatnaambordSo once in a while I visit Amsterdam and have a drink or two in the centre. Afterwards I use the tram to get back to the hotel. This weekend I was quite surprised to find out that all the streetnames are announced in English, at each stop. The easy and obvious one is of course Centraal Station, which was translated to Central Station. I also can see how they came up with Rembrandt Square instead of Rembrandtsplein. But translating “Spui” to “Courtyard with a chapel” doesn’t help any tourists to find their destination.

In Holland we already have three officially approved manners of naming streets an addresses. Nowadays we have the TNT Post standard, based on the very first publication of the postal code book, and afterwards corrected several times. This naming convention was the basis for the NEN 5825 standard (NEN is the dutch variant of ISO). But the true source of streetnames comes from the municipality and is called “Raadsbesluit”.Due to the different versions this can easily result in five different ways of spelling of the same street, as the example below shows:

Original Postal Code Book (1978): s en schepenenstr
Corrected TNT Post – standard
schout en s str
NEN- 5825 standard, version 1991: Schout en Schepenenstr
NEN- 5825 standard, version 2002: Sch en Schepenenstraat
Raadsbesluit:
Schout en Schepenenstraat

What do you think, should we add a new “English” standard to existing standards. What are the pro’s and con’s for having English labels of the streetnames, please add your opinion in the comments. Should we also replace all signs and add the English label for the streetnames? For more information and history of Dutch street names I recommend the following site “alles over straatnamen”.

1 Response to “Bi-lingual streetnames in Amsterdam, do we really need it?”


  • I don’t see why we should have bi-lingual streetnames.
    Or maybe we should translate all streetnames in all languages of the world, is that an option. (for every country :-).
    No, Dutch streetnames should remain Dutch! And someone should decide what formal streetnames in the Netherlands must be, I think that with the “basisregsitraties” this somehow must be solved.

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